I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood lately. Duh. I mean, I think about it daily, as both a mother and a pregnant woman.

But I’ve been thinking about the pressure on us mothers. We’ve all heard of the mommy wars. And we all know about the judgment. Breastfeeding vs. formula. Cloth vs. disposable. Vaccinate vs. don’t vaccinate. Cosleep vs. cry-it-out. But it is more than just the “I’m a better mom than you” stuff.

It’s about your identity.

There’s pressure to be the OLD YOU.

You hear it all over the place. “You don’t have to give up your own interests.” “You can still be stylish.” “Your diaper bag doesn’t have to look like a diaper bag.” “I’m three days post-partem and already back to my pre-pregnancy weight!” “I’m going to do everything I can to avoid stretch marks.” “I’m not going to be oneofthosemoms who only talks about her kids.”

Great. That’s all fine and good.

But let’s not forget that we are now MOTHERS. And that’s okay.

It’s okay if you don’t read novels as much as you used to (*cough* or at all). It’s okay if your thoughts are now filled with things like, ‘I wonder how I can tweak my cloth diaper laundry routine’ or ‘I can’t wait for the new Ju-Ju-Be Diaper Bag prints to be revealed!’ It’s okay if you decide that, rather than exercising and counting calories in those difficult weeks post-baby, that you would rather live in leggings or comfy dresses and just get to know your baby.

There is so much pressure on new moms. We are so afraid of failing our babies, of not doing things the right way. And then we also have to be afraid of losing the person that we once were.

But here’s the secret. That person–as she was–doesn’t exist anymore. You are a new person. Take bits of the old you along. Don’t forget her. Motherhood doesn’t mean losing yourself… it’s important to maintain your own identity and interests and do things just for YOU. But parts of the old you might be hidden for awhile. Parts might take the back burner as you adjust to new interests, new roles. It’s okay to change and roll with things. To delete bits of the old you that no longer fit. To enjoy being a mom and all the exhausting things it entails. To admit that you are happy, even if your life is so much different now.

So if you wake up tomorrow with stretch marks and don’t want to wear heels and makeup and have sex with your husband, and instead don a diaper bag and comfortable shoes and go to the park and actually ENJOY IT… don’t feel guilty. Don’t feel guilty that you aren’t doing all those things you said you would do. The things you thought would be easy and perfect when you were pregnant and imagined what kind of mother you would be. Or when you find yourself saying or doing or thinking things that you swore up and down until you were blue in the face that you would never do… prior to sleepless nights and spit up and the warm feeling of a baby sleeping on your chest.

There are days when I wake up and put on makeup and a cute outfit. When I feel recharged after dinner with old friends, when I buy myself something frivolous while shopping alone. There are days when I read or write for fun. But those days have taken a back seat for this new season of my life… and I can confidently say that I am okay with that. Because I am not the person I used to be. I have taken the bits that I want to, set others on a shelf for later. And there will be a later, you know. And we will most likely spend that later wondering where all the time went, hoping we enjoyed it enough, wishing we had done certain things differently and thankful for the things we did the way we wanted to.

Enjoy the new version of you. It’s okay to admit that you’ve changed. That you aren’t the exact same woman. That you are happy being a version of yourself that you never knew existed (and that you maybe even cringed at when you saw other moms morph into). Go with it. Drop the guilt and the perfection and give your baby a hug and cut yourself a damned break.

Downtrodden

May 28, 2012

Tonight is one of those nights where I just need to take a deep breath and try to let go.

To remind myself that this is the life that I have chosen. That this, too, shall pass. That things will get easier, some day. That you can’t change people, but you can change your reactions and the way you handle things.

It’s time to take charge.

Lately I have become very aware of how much we are in control of our own moods, our own happiness. That you can turn a day around simply by choosing to be happier, and to make the best of things. For example, this past Friday I had a very bad night of sleep (courtesy of my favorite sleepless toddler) and I knew I had a long weekend ahead of me. My husband was out of town for three whole days. I was tired before it even began. My son was having tantrums. Etc etc etc. So, we went to the park instead of brooding at home. We played. We set up a play date for the afternoon. And we ended up having a great day.

Tonight? Well, that’s more difficult. But I am trying. While I may be bitching and moaning and trying to keep my blood pressure down, I feel better that I took charge of the situation that I was in. I know it will soon seem pitiful and mundane and not worth the anger that I felt… but not tonight. I didn’t let it own me, though. I cried and let out my anger and then I dealt with it and made a few decisions and now I am calm again. Still annoyed, but calm and in control.

We don’t have to accept things as they are. It’s okay to fight back, even if it’s just with the attitude in which we handle ourselves.

 

Blur

May 22, 2012

This about sums things up:

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Ohhh, but does he make me laugh.

He is 22 months old, as of this past Thursday. He celebrated by counting to ten. He amazes me every day.

I am 29 weeks pregnant, as of today. I cannot believe that in just 8 weeks I will be considered “full term.”

I have been preparing. Nesting, perhaps. Grant moved into his big boy room over Mother’s Day weekend. That Saturday was his last night going to bed in his baby room. I cried and cried and cried. On Mother’s Day he went to sleep in his new room. He still joins us in bed at some point in the night, but it’s still symbolic of how fast it all goes. It is so strange to make this transition… to want him to stay little but also feel driven to prepare for this next life that will be joining us so, so soon.

I am preparing in spurts. Decluttering. Organizing. Sorting. Buying.

Once again I am faced with the spectrum of life and its fragility. When I was pregnant with Grant, my husband’s brother died. And this time, my husband’s mother is very sick. I don’t know how bad it is; I know she had surgery on her heart yesterday, and they need to go back in and put in a stint. I also know there is something wrong with her lungs and there is more testing planned for the near future. My husband sounds pretty defeated about it, if he talks about it at all. He worries that Grant will never see his grandmother again, and that the new baby will never meet her. It doesn’t help that they are across the country, and the likelihood that they’ll return home this summer is grim at this point.

It’s strange to be going through this again. Illness and pondering death, while on the brink of life and excitement. We will take it all a day at a time.

But tonight? We watched our son dance. He fumbled around with my husband’s iPhone and then Rufus Wainwright’s version of “Hallelujah” came on, and he danced for us. He swayed back and forth, turned slowly in circles, lifted his arms when he felt it was right, turned his head and swayed some more. He’d throw in an occasional clap, his own “chh chh” beat. It was sweet and funny and beautiful. It makes you wonder what inspires a child so young, what makes him know to just dance, to feel the music that way. How he knows when we need to feel certain things, need sweet distraction, something to make us laugh and tear up, something to make our hearts swell.

Thankful.1

May 12, 2012

Today I am thankful for…

* coffee, and flavored creamer

* our new vacuum

* morning snuggles

* coloring books

* sunny spring days

* my son’s naptime

* my son’s curls

* baby kicks, and seeing my whole belly move

* learning to love my stretchmarks

* a somewhat tantrum-free morning

* online shopping

* Camelbak water bottles

* things that keep me organized, or inspire me to organize

* sleeping dogs

* some quiet time to myself

My days have been full of ups and downs lately.

The ups are so beautiful. Have you ever had a 21 month old kiss your pregnant belly? Give you a hug when you really need it, while saying, “Ohhhhh”? Look at you like you’re the most amazing person ever because you pressed a button and The Price is Right came on? Nursed your toddler while holding his hand over your bare belly, feeling those little kick-kick-kicks together? Clipped little finger nails that still had dried paint under them?

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The downs are… ugly. Realizing that your grandmother is someone hard for you to be around is rough. Feeling like a bad wife and mother, well, that’s no fun. Feeling judged as a mother by so many people? Not having the energy to play outside with your kid (and being secretly thankful for a rainy day)? Eff off.

Overall, though, things have been good. And we got a “new” car and I am in love with it.

I have been nesting. Or trying to nest, wanting to nest. It is so much harder to prepare the second time around. You’d think it would be the other way around; you have been there and done that, you have most of the things you need already, you feel so much more capable of bringing another human being into this world and maybe even keeping it alive.

But it’s an uphill battle to find stretches of time to work on things. You cannot paint a room with a toddler around. It is hard to sort through clothes with his “help.” Your husband needs to work on the yard/go to softball practice/drive to another state/whatever. Or, dammit, you just want to lounge on the couch and drink coffee and watch reruns of Roseanne.

We decided to keep our son’s room for the new baby. So our sweet little Grant is moving into a big boy room very soon. It is so bittersweet. Wasn’t I just painting that nursery for him? Filling it with things I needed, things I thought I needed, pretty things I thought mattered? A room so filled with anticipation of things to come. I sat in there with my beagle, alone with the realization of ‘holy shit that test was positive’ and wondered what it would all be like.

Yesterday I started in on his new room. It is going to be cute. He is going to like it. But, damn it, it is hard to think about him outgrowing that nursery. So I am conflicted, because the nesting instinct can be a strong one. I could probably work for 24 hours straight and get everything perfect and organized in both rooms. But my husband keeps me in check. “No, we will go to Target after it’s painted.” And our son keeps me in check, because he is not very patient and does not care that I am trying to make his new room pretty for him.

And, in a few days, when his room is beautiful and done and ready for him, I will cry because he will spend his last night (or half night, when he joins us in our bed) in his baby room. Onward and upward.

Quick Update

March 29, 2012

Yes, I suck at blogging. I just needed a break. It wasn’t working.

So, here is my life update.

* I changed the title/website to the blog. I never really liked the old one to begin with. And I wanted something a bit more fun, that pokes fun at things a bit.

* About two weeks after my last post, I got my positive pregnancy test. 🙂 I am now 21 weeks along. Things are going fine, we’re not finding out the sex, and it’s pretty exciting. And terrifying… holy cow, we’re going to have two kids, two years apart. What were we thinking?

* Grant is crazy and amazing. He’s now 20 months old. He’s so hilarious, and smart, and sassy.

* The last few months have been some of the hardest of my life. I’m not really enjoying this pregnancy, unfortunately. The first one was awesome, but this one has been much  more exhausting and miserable. I just try to remember that it’s for a good reason. It’s hard to remember that when you are very sleep deprived, lost nearly 20 pounds from puking and no appetite, catch a stomach flu and bad cold, have a toddler who won’t sleep at night, you’re having marital issues, feeling very depressed, etc.

* BUT… it is spring! And things are looking up. And I’m feeling optimistic.

* I have been decluttering my house like crazy. I doubt I will ever be a real minimalist, but I am realizing how much STUFF we have. How much it detracts from our life. I am working on a “2012 things in 2012” thing with some other people online, where our goal is to get rid of 2012 items this year. That’s about 5 things a day. It has been surprisingly easy. And what’s scary is that you wouldn’t walk into our house and be all, “Whoa, you need to be on an episode of Hoarders.” Things add up quickly, though. And the more you toss, the easier it is to keep simplifying. We have made a LOT of trips to Goodwill in the past three months. So far I have purged 897 items (and have 1115 to go). It’s not too late to start if you have a similar goal. A good day or two of decluttering can get you hundreds of things (especially when you go through clothes, books, makeup, cleaning products, nail polish, etc.).

Okay, that’s about all for now.

Dust

November 15, 2011

I feel like I can’t keep up with my little boy (because that’s what he is now, a little boy, not a baby).

I still call him a baby, of course.

But seriously. I’m being left behind. Struggling to stay with him, to keep current on his newest skill or word. How on earth are you supposed to keep up with a toddler?

Grant has been growing and changing, changing and growing. He took his first steps the week before Halloween, and I can’t believe how brave he’s becoming. He does this adorable little Frankenstein/zombie walk that’s all slow with his arms straight out in front of him. It’s seriously cute.

He could read books all day long. I never turn him down when he holds one toward me, saying, “This! Pease!” He impresses me daily with his verbal skills. He has an amazing sense of humor for such a young person. He loves to dance.

I can’t keep up! I talk to my mom on the phone, and I tell her something cute or funny or awesome that he’s doing at the moment. And she says, “You need to record this!” (meaning on camera) and I respond with, “I can’t, I’d be filming him all day every day.”

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, of course. We’re having an especially difficult week… teething and changes in sleep patterns (and habits) and tantrums galore. Oh, the tantrums. I think I’m doing a good job of taking it in stride.

But you have to, right? Or they leave you behind, in their dust, while you sit there sputtering and wondering where your baby went. Nah, we do that anyway, no matter what.

Right now is the time to stock up on great Halloween deals… especially costumes!

I checked out our local Target the day after Halloween and everything was 50% off. I went back today–just two days later–and it was already reduced again to 70% off.

Costumes, decorations, home decor, etc. for amazing prices. Whether you want to get stuff for next year or, like me, are trying to build up a supply of pretend play/dress up clothes… NOW is the time to go. I was surprised by how much stuff was still left at our Target. I got enough there and decided not to venture into Walmart or any other store.

Seriously, full costumes with accessories for $6? Hard to beat that.

I went with: a cowboy (came with a vest, bandana, duster jacket, and cowboy hat), a fireman (came with a jacket and a very durable plastic helmet), a parrot, a doctor (came with a full set of scrubs, a lab coat, a hat, and stethoscope), and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (came with the outfit, elbow pads, mask, and a turtle shell… I like that the turtle shell is pretty plain and could be used to be just a plain ol’ turtle, too). Oh, and a random mask and a wand.

I know it will be awhile before Grant is ready to play dress up, but I also know how quickly time goes by. I’d rather stock up while I can find cheap play clothes. Hard to believe he’ll be over two years old next year at this time.

This was a fun week.

I wouldn’t say it was the best week, since I have a teething, sleep-fighting little guy on my hands. But we made up for it with lots of creative play.

If you have not checked out the Play at Home Mom blog, please do. Go on, I’ll wait. You won’t be disappointed. They have so many inexpensive, creative activities for kids. A lot of stuff you’ll already have around the house.

I love how these activities appeal to the senses. I love how they have inspired me… to play more, to say “yes” more, to let go, to make messes, to make memories, to create things, to destroy things, to explore things.

Grant has been enamored with these activities. From painting with colored yogurt, to playing with colored ice blocks, to using a “squishy bag” on our homemade lightbox, to feeling the different sensations of water beads, popcorn seeds, dried macaroni… it has changed playtime at our house.

I’ll let the pictures explain the rest.

Oh, toddlerhood.

October 11, 2011

This has been another one of those weeks where I look at my son and can’t believe how big he is or how fast he is growing.

That happens once in awhile… in the course of a week he just grows up. You blink and there he goes. He does more. He is braver. He talks more.

I’m just trying to take it all in, go with the flow. Prepare for this next stage of toddlerhood.

I am blown away, at times, by how amazing it all is. By the cute things he does. By the feeling in my heart when he just suddenly needs to hug or kiss or squeeze or touch me.

He says “pease!” when he wants another bite of food (or wants what you’re eating) and I swear it is the cutest, sweetest little voice I have ever heard. He’s very verbal now, and is surprisingly good at mimicking what we say (better start watching our language a bit more!). It’s so fun to see how much he understands, too. “Where’s Kizzy?” “Get your ball.” “Read your books.” And he knows.

He started climbing up on things, which is both exciting and terrifying. And he’s quick, too. He climbed up on top of a trunk by the window within about two seconds. I was watching him, looked away for a nanosecond, and suddenly there he was. I positively LEAPED across the room so he wouldn’t fall backwards. He fell off once, even though I was standing right behind him (did I mention how quick he is?). Live and learn. A couple days before that he conquered our (very scary) staircase. Twice.

With all of this comes toddler emotions, of course. If you’re asking yourself, ‘What does she mean by toddler emotions?” then it’s pretty clear that you’ve never had a toddler, or spent much time with them. They have highs and lows. They throw tantrums over ridiculous things, like not being allowed to spill your coffee or bite your boob. They have trouble expressing themselves, and get frustrated, and don’t know how to react to things. I try to laugh it off, and redirect him, and let him know that his feelings do matter… but that it’s also not okay to throw Mommy’s laptop on the floor or bite her arm just because he’s upset or not getting his way. You can’t reason with them at this age, so it’s frustrating for me, too.

The other end of that high/low spectrum makes it all worth it, though. Because when he is SO HAPPY or SO EXCITED you just can’t help but be SO HAPPY or SO EXCITED right along with him. And it’s just so cool to watch him learn things, try things, experience new things.

Fall is the season of change, and it is abundant in our house right now. In many ways, some good and some bad. But mostly good, and mostly with a certain little toddler.